Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Tony Becca | Sammy was a lucky man

Published:Sunday | November 19, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Darren Sammy

Darren Sammy has been considered a lucky man to have captained the West Indies, once the champions of the world and the team considered by many to be the greatest that ever played the game.

Sammy was a good player, but in the opinion of many, he was not one good enough to make the Test team or to captain the team.

Sammy, by his own admission, was put into an uncomfortable position.

Whatever the reasons were for his selection, he was catapulted into the company of men like Frank Worrell, Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, and Viv Richards as captain of the once brilliant West Indies.

To make matters worse, on the day of one of the West Indies biggest triumphs, on the day when Carlos Brathwaite worked his magic with the bat, he publicly broadsided the president of the West Indies Board.

His relationship with West Indies cricket has never been good since that day in 2016 when the West Indies won the World T20 Championship.

That day marked his last day as a West Indies player.

A week or so ago, however, in an interview with ESPN on the state of West Indies cricket, Sammy said something that surprised me.

Sammy said that "the lack of senior players in domestic cricket may be hurting the development of new and young talent".

Sammy has always impressed me as a person, apart from in 2016, and that is why his admission that the absence of senior players in domestic cricket maybe hurting West Indies cricket shocked me.

The reality is that it is hurting West Indies cricket, and it is either that he was not concerned about that in the first place, or that it had just dawned on him that that was and is indeed part of the problem for the decline of West Indies cricket.

It certainly was not news to me, who was one of the persons talking about the problems that the absence of players like Sammy, Christopher Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Powell, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Sunil Narine, and company caused in West Indies cricket.

And it was not only that a few of them were not in the West Indies Test team: it was because as good players, some of them, and as experienced players, all of them, were not around to assist in the development of the young players - to play with and against them.

The truth is that the decline of West Indies cricket started from the time of the 'Rebel' tour to South Africa in 1983 after which players like Lawrence Rowe, Alvin Kallicharran, Colin Croft, Bernard Julien, David Murray, Richard Austin, and a string of West Indians were banned from West Indies cricket, thus robbing young West Indians of competition for places on the team.

As important as money is in life, money, and the attraction of money, led to the absence of these players from West Indies cricket.

If Sammy, and company, did not realise what impact their absence would have on West Indies, or did not see it coming, something was wrong, or is wrong.

Maybe in his desire to get more money, he did not see it coming, or he simply did not care.

 

MONEY IMPORTANT

 

Money is important, times have indeed changed, no doubt about that, and because of that, patriotism is really, or probably, a thing of the past.

The West Indies board recently issued an amnesty to the players, and apart from saying that the players were not respected, which sometimes, is gospel, Sammy also said that the amnesty was not enough without better pay.

He may be right about that, but where is the more money to come from?

It certainly is not coming through the gates. It did not come even when Sammy and his colleagues were playing. It is not coming from West Indian sponsors, and it is not coming from West Indian television.

Maybe more money is expected to come from the ICC, or from foreign generosity, or from foreign sponsors.

West Indies cricket was, and is, in dire straits. The West Indies Board and the West Indies Players' Association looked at the pay structure of West Indies cricket, and in an attempt to save West Indies cricket, they decided to make certain adjustments.

The board and the players' association agreed to skim off a little of the sponsorship money, which went to the Test players, and they improved on the players' contracted fees and their appearance money while at the same time using some of the money to put the first-class players and the women players on contract.

In a bid to improve the standard of cricket, the board and the players association had to find money to underwrite the region's four-day tournament and its format of return matches, and some of the money was used for that.

The West Indies Board represents West Indies cricket and cricketers. It looked after all of them to the best of its ability, and that is all one can ask.

The West Indies Board had to trim, or to cut, or to adjust in order to be fair to everyone and to survive - especially when West Indies cricket is in such a state that it can hardly pay to man the gates to collect even a measly admission fee for its first-class matches.

On the one hand, the players may have lost a little money. On other hand, they did not, and in the promise is that in the long run, they will be better off, plus, it was a decision that was agreed on by the board, the players' association, and the "senior players" - especially so that the first-class players could earn a little from the kitty.

It seems that once the attraction of T20 cricket is around, nothing the board does will attract the "senior"and former West Indies players back to West Indies cricket.

The lure of the dollar, of US dollars, is real.

When one remembers the likes of Teddy Griffith, Renford Pinnock, Ralston Otto, Jim Allen, and Robert Haynes, who never even enjoyed the taste of Test cricket, however, Sammy was a lucky man.

The West Indies "senior" players are also lucky that unlike the other countries, including Bangladesh, recently, the West Indies Board allows West Indies players to play T20 cricket wherever and whenever they want to play. The "No Objection Certificate" seems to be given as if by right.

Sammy was, and is, a lucky man on more than one count.